Jan Steckel has a new book of poetry out, The Horizontal Poet. Published by Zeitgeist Press and nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, Jan says "It has poems in it about loving women and about loving men." My thanks to Jan for letting me share this poem from the book with you!
My step-grandfather’s grandson
danced with my cousin at a Bar Mitzvah.
He held her too close and murmured
“We’re not really cousins, not by blood.”
“Let’s pretend we are,” she said,
inserting her elbow between them.
I’d been working for gay rights for years
before I worked up the nerve
to ask my grandmother to take me to the Castro.
“Where are you going?”
my step-grandfather called from the recliner.
“To Castro Street, dear.”
“What do you want to go THERE for?”
“To see fairies, dear,” trilled my grandmother,
and skipped out the door.
Her feet were so long,
she had to descend the basement stairs sideways.
Her shoulders were wide, her hips narrow.
She could pitch a baseball like a man,
had taught my father how to throw.
Her Mercedes launched like a torpedo
from the underground garage.
When we reached the Castro,
manly beauty sizzled. We held hands
to protect ourselves from glorious torsos,
spreading of feathers, the sheer display
of pierced and tattooed flesh
preening that day on the summer street.
I wondered if we looked like lesbians:
a baby dyke and her still-beautiful sugar-mama.
I pretended we were.
"Pretending" first appeared in Lavender Review.